Empowering Communities to Save Cats
Photograph by Spencer Millsap
Laly Lichtenfeld has lived and worked in northern Tanzania for more than ten years, partnering with Maasai communities to protect big cats and the environment. Her organization helps herders build living walls to protect livestock, and trains community members to serve as wildlife conflict officers, lead anti-poaching patrols, and monitor the health of wildlife populations. Grant funds from the Society are allowing Laly and her team to bring this work to three new regions in Tanzania. Her team will also expand environmental education programs, community land conservation efforts, and environmentally friendly beekeeping enterprises in the Maasai Steppe.
Educating the Next Generation of Wildlife Protectors
Photograph courtesy Thandi Mweetwa
Thandi Mweetwa is training the next generation of big cat researchers and conservationists in Zambia’s Luangwa Valley. Inspired by her uncle who worked as a safari guide, she joined a local conservation club as a young student and began working in the field to care for big cats and other wildlife. Thandi realized that many people in her community had never seen big cats in the wild and perceived them only as a threat. Others, needing to provide for their families, resorted to poaching or other actions that harm big cats and their habitats. Today, Thandi is leading her own conservation clubs. Big Cats Initiative grant funds are allowing her to provide education and training in field-based research techniques for young people who want to pursue careers in science and conservation to help communities and big cats live peacefully together.
Reducing Conflicts to Protect Big Cats
Photograph courtesy Amy Dickman
When a hunter illegally killed Cecil, one of Zimbabwe’s most studied and celebrated lions, people around the world were deeply saddened. In the aftermath of this tragedy, many of you found a way to take action and make a positive impact. More than 7,000 individuals joined the Big Cats Initiative through our High-Five Give $5 campaign. Through social media, caring donors gave more than $200,000 in just a few weeks. This funding was put to work immediately to make a real difference—investing in the work of BCI grantees who are working with communities on the ground.
Amy Dickman works in Tanzania’s Ruaha region. Amy has worked with five communities to implement innovative solutions to reduce human-lion conflict, like fortified livestock fences (bomas) and livestock guard dogs. A grant made possible through High-Five donations will allow Amy to expand her work to a total of 15 villages, positively impacting thousands of households, more than 1,000 lions, and an estimated 200 cheetahs.
Engaging Warriors to Fight for Big Cats
Photograph courtesy Ewaso Lions
A native Kenyan, Shivani Bhalla works in northern Kenya where people and lions must coexist. Her Warrior Watch program has trained and employed 18 young Samburu warriors to be ambassadors for lions. The warriors have prevented the killing of lions 35 times in the last five years. High-Five contributions are helping Shivani train and employ eight additional warriors in this critical work.